Anytime you enter into an agreement with another party, it pays to know precisely what that agreement contains. If you’ve entered into an agreement with a contractor, knowing exactly what they will and will not do can save you time and money as well as spare you needless headaches down the line.
Before any construction takes place, be sure to obtain an updated land survey to ensure the process goes smoothly. If your contract stipulates that the contractor is responsible for the survey, make sure you obtain a detailed copy of the results. It also means the contractor is responsible for any necessary alterations due to a faulty survey.
While these surveys can be expensive, they also provide piece of mind.
What is a Land Survey?
A complete land survey normally includes everything from defining the property boundaries to locating any buildings built on the property (new and old). It also details the location of all utilities (electric, water, sewer, fiber optic, etc.) and any relevant features of the land such as streams, roads and elevation changes. These surveys are compared with existing records for consistency and are utilized to establish exact land acreage and value as well as to mitigate any land disputes.
Benefits of a Land Survey
By far, the biggest benefit of a land survey is the confidence to know that your project will be completed as smoothly as possible. An improperly conducted survey can result in building an addition partially on someone else’s land. This results in an additional cost of removing the addition and rebuilding it—potentially incurring a significant addition cost.
A more catastrophic example of a land survey gone horribly awry involved a family that built their home entirely on a parcel of land they didn’t even own. Their parcel was half a mile away.
Exact Utility Location
Land surveys also establish the location of underground utilities. Be sure you’ve checked the agreement with your contractor to see how they plan on accessing these utilities and who’s responsible for any damages and/or clean-up.
One of the problems with mechanically digging for underground utilities is the potential for damage to your site if one of the utilities is damaged. Hitting a water line could flood your entire site and delay your project for weeks. Hitting an electrical line is a severe safety hazard.
A better method to locate underground utilities involves the use of closed-circuit TV (CCTV) in combination with a more non-destructive excavation technique. Called hydro excavation, high pressure water loosens soil, rocks and sediment, then removes it using a vacuum hose. This method precisely locates and exposes the utilities in a non-destructive manner.
Normally, excavation crews utilizing this method also take care of the waste they remove, but check your agreement to be sure.
Any renovation or construction project comes with its share of ups and downs. By having a land survey conducted prior to any construction, you can help minimize the potential for setbacks of time and money. Be sure you check the agreement between you and your contractor to determine who is responsible for conducting that survey.